Suspect detained on charges of spying for UAE ‘kills himself’ in Turkish jail

Suspect was one of two men detained for spying, one of whom was being investigated for links to murder of Jamal Khashoggi

Richard Hall
Middle East correspondent
Monday 29 April 2019 10:31 BST
Jamal Khashoggi during a press conference on 15 December 2014. Saudi Arabian officials murdered Khashoggi, a dissident and journalist
Jamal Khashoggi during a press conference on 15 December 2014. Saudi Arabian officials murdered Khashoggi, a dissident and journalist (AFP)

A man arrested in Turkey on suspicion of spying for the United Arab Emirates has committed suicide in prison, according to the Turkish justice ministry.

The detainee was one of two suspects arrested earlier this month and charged with espionage. Turkish officials said the pair had confessed to spying on Arab nationals and were in the process of setting up a surveillance network.

The spying case had garnered added intrigue after it was revealed that Turkish authorities were investigating one of the two suspects for links to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which prompted an international outcry.

A senior official told Reuters at the time of the arrests that one of the men had arrived in the days after Khashoggi’s death in October last year, and that the other came later to assist with his workload.

The Istanbul prosecutor’s office said Monday that one of the two prisoners, identified as Zaki YM Hasan, hanged himself in his cell, but did not specify whether it was the suspect linked to the Khashoggi killing.

The apparent suicide is likely to deepen a diplomatic crisis between Ankara and the UAE – a close ally of Saudi Arabia – which worsened in the aftermath of Khashoggi’s murder. Turkey and US intelligence agencies believe Khashoggi was killed by a hit squad sent by the Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed Bin Salman.

Relations between the two countries were already tense due to the UAE joining Saudi Arabia and other countries in a blockade of Turkey’s ally Qatar.

Khashoggi, a well-known Saudi journalist who wrote articles that were critical of the Saudi government and the crown prince, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a team of Saudi operatives.

Saudi Arabia initially insisted that Khashoggi had left the consulate, but later admitted that the 59-year-old was killed by Saudi officials “acting outside their scope of authority”, and charged 11 people with the crime.

With additional reporting by agencies

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